Thank You for Keeping Me Alive!
Driving down the highway on August 11, 2011, I could have never imagined what lie ahead. During a sudden downpour, my car hydroplaned off the road and into a concrete culvert.
Not only was the passenger side completely crushed, but the transmission was cut in half and the steering wheel was bent. Witnesses didn’t think I was going to make it. I was rushed to Muskogee Regional Medical Center but then transferred on to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa two days later.
Among other brutal injuries to my pelvis, vertebrae, and eye, I also tore the main ligament in my neck that supplies all of the blood to the spinal cord.
I received two plasma transfusions after losing copious amounts of blood.
After reaching a point of stability, I was released on August 29, 2011. But the long road to recovery was only beginning. I was sent home with a tracheotomy and was in a wheelchair, but started physical therapy a couple weeks later and had surgery to get the screw taken out of my pelvis.
Now, I still have short-term memory loss, major headaches and neck pain. But because of those who donated blood, I am still alive.
I attend Northeastern State University in Tahlequah every month for traumatic brain injury therapy to regain my memory and learn to multitask.
In April 2013, I became a blood donor and started giving back. I just want to thank everyone who is and has donated blood to save people’s lives like mine. Every donation truly makes a difference. God bless you all!
Pictured above, Haley in front of the culvert where she crashed.
We would like to thank Haley for using “Share Your Story” to tell us her story.
Little Survivor Gives Thanks
Last December, Isabelle Ratcliff was just returning home for the holidays. The eight-year-old, Tuttle girl had spent months in the hospital battling leukemia. But as her strength began to return earlier this year, she and her mother took a very important outing. The two visited an Oklahoma City donor center to give thanks to donors giving blood. Isabelle wore her special shirt proclaiming, “I’m ALIVE Thanks To A Blood Donor.”
“Seeing the donors brought back memories for Isabelle,” said Rebekah Ratcliff, mom.
In the summer of 2011, Isabelle ran a high fever that wouldn’t break. She was sent to the Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center. Before she could undergo tests, she had to be given two units of blood and a unit of platelets. Tests revealed Isabelle had leukemia.
While spending five months in the hospital, Isabelle received numerous blood transfusions, and today she is cancer free. She and her family realize the value of blood donation, and hope that by showing their appreciation in person, they can be an encouragement to donors.
When asked to explain what happens with donated blood, Isabelle remarked, “They send it to the hospital, and give it to kids who need it.” And though the process is a bit more complex than what she described, Isabelle definitely understands and is grateful for the life-saving gift of blood this holiday season.
Joseph Newport Story
Rob Cox Story
Blood Delivery Gets Personal
Something didn’t seem right to David Ash, Blood Products Services courier for Oklahoma Blood Institute. Feeling very ill with an elevated blood pressure, he went home from work on March 3. The next morning, his doctor advised him to go to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital - one of the facilities where David routinely delivers blood. Once there, he learned he was having a heart attack.
Physicians quickly performed an angioplasty to see if stents or a balloon could help, only to find that virtually no blood was flowing through David’s heart. A balloon was inserted and inflated to open the coronary artery and keep him alive until he could have surgery.
On March 6, while waiting for heart bypass surgery, David “coded”. After being revived, he underwent quintuple (x5) bypass surgery. During the surgery, David was given eight units of red cells plus plasma and platelets. David may have delivered the blood that saved his own life. While in surgery, he again coded and needed to be resuscitated. He became affectionately known as ‘the walking dead man’ among his physicians.
After the surgery, David’s life was still in danger. Not only did he suffer from infection in his incision site, but the surgery had not completely corrected his underlying heart arrhythmia. Cardiac conversion was performed and then, a few months later, a pacemaker was implanted.
Today, David is alive and well. He and his wife, Sharon, administrative assistant, Donor Recruitment, understand the importance of their work more than most.
“Thanks to OBI’s work, prayers from across the country and support from our OBI family, David is back to work and doing well,” said Sharon. “We can never fully express our gratitude for the staff and donors.”
Hunter Denton Story
Mattilynn & Jeremy Hurley Story
A Sooner Thank You
Dear Blood Institute,
During your recent blood drive with the University of Oklahoma, I was honored to donate for the first time. This was a very special moment for me, and I’d like to share why.
Nearing the end of her pregnancy, my mom began to have complications. I was born six weeks prematurely, weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces. After immediately being placed in the intensive care unit, the doctors informed my parents that my mom had suffered an infection in her placenta, and that infection was passed on to me. I had a 30 percent change of living.
My parents were devastated. If I was to have a chance at survival, a blood transfusion would be required because I did not have enough white blood cells to fight off the infection.
During this time, the medical staff was trying to find a donor with my blood type. They found a match - a man in Rochester, NY, three hours northwest of Binghamton, NY, where I was born. This man was a regular donor, and he agreed to donate immediately.
The blood arrived just in time. Three days later, things were looking up. My chance of living was increased to 50 percent, and, at that time, my parents and family knew I was a fighter. I fought off the infection, and I truly believe the kindness of the blood donor from Rochester, NY, saved my life.
Thank you for the work you do and for allowing me to be a part of it.
University of Oklahoma Athletic Department
17 Years Ago…
As Railee Creech joined thousands of other students heading off to college for the first time this fall, her family couldn’t help but reflect on the miracle of blood donation that allowed them to enjoy this season of life. Both Railee and her mother Holly faced near tragedy in 1995.
Holly, who had already lost babies prematurely, became critically ill months before Railee’s due date. Doctors decided to deliver Railee and told Holly and her husband Robert that there was less than a five percent chance of the baby’s survival. Railee was born weighing only one pound.
Meanwhile, Holly lay in the Intensive Care Unit, fighting for her life. Due to a critical blood disorder, known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), she required blood. With the help of innovative therapeutic blood treatments that had just become available through the Blood Institute, and more than 300 donors, Holly survived.
In the months that followed, Railee had delicate heart surgery and struggled to grow. “She was the smallest baby the hospital had ever cared for, and she, too, received blood donations,” said Robert. Though neither mom nor baby were expected to live, both are alive and well today thanks to faithful donors.
Railee graduated from Norman High School in May, and is now a freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Because computerized donor records didn’t exist at the time of Railee’s birth, it is impossible to individually thank the donors whose blood saved Holly and Railee. But at each milestone in Railee’s life, her parents reflect on those who provided the opportunity for their miracle. That year was one the Creech family will never forget. And having endured it, they have dearly treasured the subsequent 17.
Pictured above - Robert, Railee, Ashlee and Holly Creech.
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Growing with Gratitude
As each year passes, MaKayla Farrimond lives life to the fullest knowing that her need for blood is coming again. Niece of Crystal Farrimond, executive director, Tulsa, MaKayla is a well-known face in our Tulsa donor center. Not only does she volunteer regularly at blood drives and other events, she also serves as a reminder to staff of the impact of our daily efforts.
At 4 months of age, MaKayla was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition. She received blood during two open heart surgeries. Her first heart valve replacement was performed at St. Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa when she was only 7 months old. Ten years later, she had outgrown that valve, requiring another surgery and another unit of blood from OBI donors.
“Every six months, MaKayla has an echocardiogram to evaluate her heart,” said Crystal. “When the pumping of her heart decreases, it will be time for a new valve and again, blood will be needed from our donors.”
At 14 years old, MaKayla isn’t missing a beat. A freshman at Muskogee High School, she enjoys swimming, playing Wii and Facebooking with friends.
“All the people that get the blood are really lucky,” said MaKayla. “I think about how many people’s lives are changed just by one little stick.”
MaKayla is an example of someone who is alive thanks to blood donors!
Pictured above, Crystal Farrimond, Executive Director, Tulsa; and her niece MaKayla pose with Betty Thompson, Miss Oklahoma/Miss America 2012 first runner up. MaKayla thanked Betty for supporting blood donation with OBI.